London (AFP) – Arsenal star striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will be staying with the club despite speculation he wanted a move said Gunners manager Mikel Arteta on Thursday.
The 30-year-old France-born Gabonese international, reports suggest, is reluctant to commit himself any longer than the 18 months remaining on his contract due to Arsenal struggling to qualify for the Champions League.
Arsenal are nine points adrift of fourth-placed Chelsea after Wednesday’s matches.
Aubameyang — who captained Arsenal in their impressive 2-0 win over Manchester United on Wednesday — told French station RMC he is “100 per cent here” without adding if he would extend his stay.
Arteta, though, was adamant at his press conference on Thursday that the former Borussia Dortmund striker was integral to his plans.
“I don’t even think about the possibility with Auba (leaving),” said Arteta.
“I want him here.”
Arteta, whose first few games in charge has seen an improvement in Arsenal than the disjointed team under his compatriot and predecessor Unai Emery, reiterated how much he wanted fiery Swiss midfielder Granit Xhaka to stay despite his falling out with the fans.
– ‘Change our plans’ –
Xhaka — who was stripped of the captaincy by Emery after his angry reaction when fans booed him — has been linked with a loan move to Bundesliga outfit Hertha Berlin.
However, Arteta revealed he had also asked the Arsenal players to try and change Xhaka’s mind.
“I wanted his team-mates to get his back and help him to change his mind because we need him,” said Arteta.
“I believe that if we were able to do that the fans would respond in a positive way.
“I’ve seen him act every day, how he trains, how he lives his profession and the quality of the player. He could be a really important player for the club.”
One player he will definitely have to find a replacement for in the January transfer window is defender Calum Chambers.
The 24-year-old will be out for between six to nine months the club said on Thursday after undergoing surgery on a cruciate ligament injury he suffered in the league defeat by Chelsea last weekend.
“That we will try to be in the market to see options that can strengthen the team, that’s for sure and our obligation,” said Arteta.
“My obligation is to give my opinion on the things we can improve.
“Obviously we have a bad injury with Calum a few days ago that will change our plans at the back.
“I’m more concerned about getting players back from injury and try to improve the players I have here.”
Arteta’s next challenge is an intriguing FA Cup third round home tie with Championship leaders Leeds United on Monday.
The 37-year-old former Manchester City assistant coach is full of respect for Leeds’s manager Marcelo Bielsa and expects them to be in the Premier League next season.
“How he (Bielsa) makes them fight and run and challenge and compete and never give up in any game under any circumstances,” said Arteta.
“The way they play, the manner they behave. I followed their coach for a long time and I know how tough it will be.”
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